Faculty

The faculty of the Suluk Academy are an experienced group of dedicated teachers within the Sufi Order. The faculty's background in the study, practice, and teaching of spiritual development make them a valuable resource for students.

Pir Zia Inayat-Khan is the permanent faculty member whose presence provides an integrative continuity. Each year he is joined by different faculty members. As a result students will be exposed to a variety of teachers and teaching styles. The faculty includes Teachers who present Core Training material to the whole class, and Mentors who facilitate small groups and enhance the students' learning process. The diverse faculty enriches the overall experience of the program, with each member providing a unique attunement and making a distinct contribution to the Suluk Academy curriculum.

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Pir Zia Inayat-KhanPir Zia Inayat-Khan (Europe and USA)
Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, PhD, also known as Sarafil Bawa, is a scholar and teacher of Sufism in the lineage of his grandfather, Hazrat Inayat Khan. Pir Zia is the president of The Inayati Order and founder of Suluk Academy, a school of contemplative study with branches in the United States and Europe. He is editor of A Pearl in Wine and Caravan of Souls and author of Saracen Chivalry and Mingled Waters (forthcoming, 2017). Pir Zia divides his time between New Lebanon, New York, and Suresnes, France. www.pirzia.org

Kirsten Alia ArnesenKirsten Alia Arnesen (Europe)
Kirsten Alia Arnesen is a retreat guide and representative in the Sufi Order in Norway. She started her studies of sufism in the 1970's and was initiated in the SOI in 2000. With her daughter she publishes SufiNews in Europe, which may be downloaded at www.sufi.no. Alia was a salika in the Parvana class which graduated in 2013. She lives in the Oslo region and works with cultural projects, integration and multicultural awareness. With her husband she are building a retreat centre on an island at the west coast of Norway.

Akbar AppelsAkbar Appels (Europe)
Akbar Appels has been a mureed since 1979, and is a representative and retreat guide in the Sufi Order. Together with his wife, Latifa, he runs a Sufi centre in Schilde near Antwerp (Belgium) where he also gives seminars on the Sufi Message. He leads the leaders training in Holland/Belgium and guides group retreats. Akbar was a Maths teacher for about 38 years and retired two years ago. He now spends his time studying the papers of Hazrat Inayat Khan and translating them into Dutch and digitizing a huge amount of audiocassettes recordings of Pir Vilayat. To relax he likes swimming outdoors, walking the dog (they live in the woods) and going to the library. If some mathematical problem keeps you up all night, he is always ready to help find a solution!

Yaqin AubertYaqin Joseph Aubert (USA)
Yaqin Joseph Aubert was initiated into the Sufi path by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in 1972. He is a founding member and former director of the Abode of the Message Sufi community and Mt. Road Children's School. Yaqin has been guiding individual and group retreats since 1978. He is a teacher, storyteller, and Cherag (minister) in the Universal Worship. He is presently a mentor in Suluk Academy, the core esoteric training of the Sufi Order International. The path of light is his heart's calling.

Khabira BrownKhabira Brown (USA)
Khabira Brown is Vice President of the Inayati Order's Esoteric School in North America. She has worked with Pir Zia Inayat-Khan as a mentor in Suluk Academy consistently since its first class in 2003, and was a loyal student of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. She is an Inayati Regional Representative in Southern New England and offers classes on meditation and Sufism in the Boston area and online. Khabira also trains leaders in the Inayati Order and is a Retreat Guide and Cheraga (minister) in the Universal Worship. Professionally, she is an educator and works with young children at The Hollow Reed School in Jamaica Plain, MA.

Sarida BrownSarida Brown (Europe)
Sarida Brown became a student of Pir Vilayat Khan in 1975. She serves as Worldwide Kefayat (leader) of the Sufi Healing Order and as a Representative in the Sufi Order, and teaches and guides retreats in the UK and Europe. She lives in Royal Leamington Spa in England, has been practising acupuncture for 35 years and is Founding and Consultant Editor of Caduceus Journal.

Musawirra BruningMusawira Brüning (Europe)
Musawira Brüning has been a student on the Sufi Path for 30 years. She serves as vice-president for Zira’at, teaches and guides retreats in France and Europe. Having lived for a long time in France, she recently moved to Hamburg where she is responsible for a centre, providing shelter for women and children exposed to violence. She also works in the field of body awareness and as a therapist.

Claire Vayu Bruas-JacquessVayu Claire Bruas-Jaquess (Europe)
Vayu Claire Bruas-Jaquess lives in the West of France, in the town of Nantes, after spending 15 years in London. Her childhood was in the Paris area, near Suresnes. For the last 30 years she has been gratefully absorbing the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Finding a balance between parenthood, working as a psychoanalyst, and giving sufi classes has been her goal for many years. Being a mentor in the first and then the second Suluk Europe courses strengthened again the international Sufi connections she has always valued.

Zamurrud ButtaZumurrud Butta (Europe and USA)
Zumurrud Butta has been a student on the Sufi path for 20 years. In the lineage of Inayat Khan she serves in the Esoteric Training Committee and as European vice-president of the Universal Worship. She lives in Vienna, Austria, where she has done research and worked in the field of human rights. Zumurrud lectures on Sufism and leads retreats in many countries.

Amida CaryAmida Cary (USA)
Amida Cary is a traveler of the Sufi path and student of the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. She became a mureed of Pir Vilayat in 1975, and from 1980 on has served as a teacher and retreat guide of Sufi Order International. Amida worked closely with Pir Vilayat in the development of his Curriculum and as editor of www.universel.net. She helped design and develop the Suluk Academy. An educator by profession, she is dedicated to advancing consciousness and conscience. Amida teaches in the San Francisco Bay area and guides retreats in natural settings.

Tara ChishtiTara Chishti (USA)
Tara Inayat Chishti is a long time mureed and Senior Teacher in the Sufi Order International. As a student in the inaugural class of the Suluk Academy she was so inspired that she continues her close involvement with the Academy.  She has been a mentor in the two year classes, often audits on- going classes to in order to stay current with the teachings, and is a regular student in the Graduate Studies program. She helped develop the curriculum for the supplemental training in the one year course, and mentored those students who had taken the one year course, but needed the additional training in order to continue on in the Suluk Graduate Studies.  She currently resides at the Abode of the Message as the Abode Sufi Order Center Leader, and stays connected with the entire mureed body of the Sufi Order in her role as National Delegate.

Nirtana DeckroNirtana Deckro (USA)
Nirtana Gloria Deckro has been a traveler on the Sufi path for more than 30 years. After training as a physician in England, Nirtana lived in Sri Aurobindo’s ashram in Pondicherry, India, and then while engaged in a family practice residency program had an inner experience, which led to her coming to America and initiation into the Sufi Order. She spent 8 years developing, directing  and evaluating programs for the Education Initiative of the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Boston which focused on training educators and health professionals to bring meditation into the work setting. Nirtana then built her own healing practice, offering meditation training and body-centered spiritual counseling for individuals and groups. In addition to raising a family, Nirtana is a retreat guide, healing conductor, senior teacher and graduate of the inaugural 4-year Suluk class. She has served as a mentor for both the one-year and 2-year Suluk programs and is currently Executive Director of Sufi Order International North America.

no photo availableIschtar Dvorak (Europe)
Ischtar Dvorak lives in Northern Germany. She has followed the path of Universal Sufism since 1983. She is a representative and is responsible for the leaders' training in the Esoteric School. In her service as Vice President of the Universal Worship she placed special emphasis on the revival and inclusion of the Divine Feminine. Together with her husband she publishes the German Sufi magazine SIFAT for the purpose of integrating the message of Universal Sufism with the wisdom of teachers representing the world religions.

Rahman EnglishRahman English (USA)
Rahman English has been a student of the Sufi path for over 20 years. He has served as Sufi Order International teacher, guide, representative, assistant Regional Representative, and, as a Suluk Academy alumnus, has served as mentor for multiple Suluk classes.

Katherine FeistKatherine Feist (USA)
Katherine has worked with groups of people in many capacities over the years in her personal, professional and spiritual life. It has been an honor and a delight for her to be a mentor for Suluk, witnessing and supporting the Saliks who participate in this marvelous study as they continue to transform into even more amazing reflections of the One. Over the last 35 years, in the Sufi Order, she has worn many hats as Representative, Shafayat, Cheraga, Regional Representative, helping Pir Zia with appointments and most importantly as a mureed. Professionally she has worked as a clinical social worker, “play lady”, pre-school teacher and college professor. She currently guides retreats in her new home in the high desert of New Mexico and works as a Southwest Regional Representative to Arizona and New Mexico. Katherine brings a sense of humor and the ability to see joy in the mystery of life.

Kabir Peter Findeisen Kabir Peter Findeisen (Europe)
Kabir Findeisen lives in Northern Germany.  He is a representative and retreat guide in  the Sufi Order, Shefayat for the SHO in Germany and a student in the Sufi Order since 1984. He  works as a physician and psychotherapist and is founder of Caduceus Clinic – a psychosomatic hospital.

Suhrawardi Gebel Suhrawardi Gebel (USA)
Hassan Suhrawardi Gebel was a mentor for Kafur, the first four-year Suluk class, and has also taught a variety of topics for several Suluk classes. As SOI Secretary General he spearheaded the effort to disseminate the Suluk curriculum by topic to the Centers in North America and Europe. 

Sharif GrahamSharif Munawir Graham (Europe)
Donald A. Sharif Graham was a professor of Literature and Comparative Religion at University of Arizona. He first encountered Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in 1970 and worked closely with him on several of his books, and also edited books of Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. In 1998 he moved to Suresnes to work full time on The Complete Works, the seventh volume of which was recently completed. He has given seminars in many places about Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan and his teachings.

Fatimabi GriegerFatimabi Grieger (Europe)
Fatimabi Monika Grieger has been following the Sufi path of Pir-O-Musrhid Hazrat Inayat Khan for over 30 years. She founded the Sufi Center Omega in Zürich. As a teacher in the Inayati tradition and a semazen in the tradition of the Mevlevis she shares the attunement of the whirling derwish. She serves the Sufi Order as a representative, retreat guide and leader of the Universel in Switzerland.

Nigel HamiltonNigel Wali Hamilton, Ph.D. (Europe)
Nigel Hamilton is Director of the Centre for Counselling and Psychotherapy Education as well as a professional Transpersonal Psychotherapist with an extensive background in Sufi teachings, Alchemy and guiding spiritual retreats. He has been the UK representative and a Spiritual Retreat Guide for the Sufi Order International for the past 26 years.

Noor Jocelyn HervotNoor Jocelyn Hervot (Europe)
Noor Hervot lives in Britany. She is a representative in the Sufi Order and Shefayat for the SHO in France. A student in the Sufi tradition for 18 years, she now uses this experience in practising and teaching spiritual healing and meditation. She works as a counselor and therapist in energy medicine.

Taj InayatTaj Inayat (USA)
Taj Inayat is the Vice President of the Sufi Order International, and the long time spiritual companion of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. She has been on the path of Sufism since she was initiated by Murshid Samuel Lewis in 1967. She is a co-founder of Sufi Retreats, a process of unfoldment based on the teachings of Hazrat Inayat Khan and the insights of modern psychology, and has a MA in Counseling Psychology. Taj is the mother of Pir Zia Inayat Khan.

Himayat InayatiHimayat Inayati (USA)
Himayat Inayati, Th.D., has been on the Sufi path for over 35 years, studying with Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan and Murshid Samuel Lewis, and is the former International head of the Sufi Healing Order. He has been a catalytic figure in the on-going dialogue between science, spirituality, and healing and is the founder of The Raphaelite Work, a method of healing and transformational process rooted in Sufism and updated by modern psychology and body work. Himayat's teaching is lucid, accessible and humorous - orienting the ancient mystical teaching of the major world spiritual traditions toward solutions of contemporary issues.

 

Ashoka Robert JohnsonAshoka Robert Johnson (USA)
Ashoka Robert Johnson is a Representative, Retreat Guide and Healing Conductor based in Oak Park, Illinois, and a graduate of the Nasim Suluk class. As a classical musician, Ashoka Robert Johnson’s career has spanned four continents and is a tenured orchestra member of both the Lyric Opera of Chicago as well as the Grant Park Symphony Orchestra. He has been teaching Meditation for Musicians classes in many of the major music schools and conservatories of the Midwest as well as internationally.  Recently, Ashoka gave classes at both the University of Sao Paulo and the Foundation Arts Conservatory, both in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Ashoka offers private coaching sessions to his professional colleagues geared to increasing concentration and focus, enhancing one’s creativity and stage presence, reducing stress and anxiety and improving one’s health and well-being.

 

Amira KardishAmira Kardish (USA)
Amira Laurie Kardish was initiated  in 1977. Her 35 years on the Sufi "path of the heart" have led to her current work as a Tucson, AZ Center Representative, one of the Southwest Regional Representatives for New Mexico and Arizona, an Advisor on the Leadership Appointments Committee, and the honor of being a Mentor in Suluk West. She also enjoys her "other career" as a lifelong bilingual teacher of elementary aged gifted children.

 

Espabad Heinz KindlEspabad Heinz Kindl (Europe)
Heinz Espabad Kindl lives in Germany. He is a representative and retreat guide in the Sufi Order and Conductor for the SHO. He is currently running the Sufi Meditation Centre YA WALI  in Munich, South Germany. Ya WALI is also a healing centre, where Espabad works as a healer and a alternative practitioner. He has been following our Sufi path for 25 years.

Saki LeeSaki Lee (Europe)
Saki Lee was a mureed of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan since 1973. As a senior Sufi guide and teacher in the SOI, Saki guides ongoing retreats and leaders trainings in Europe. She also serves as a European mentor for the Dances of Universal Peace and Vice President for Kinship. Her professional work is in the Netherlands as a doctor of Oriental medicine.

Nini Fattah LeickNini Fattah Leick (Europe)
Nini Fattah Leick lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. She has been a student of the Sufi path for the last 23 years. She is a Representative in the Sufi Order and an active guide, retreat guide and cheraga. She has been a mentor in the European Suluk Academy 2009-11 and 2011-13. She is a clinical psychologist presently mostly working with supervision.

Shahabuddin LessShahabuddin Less (USA)
Shahabuddin Less has been studying and teaching the Sufi Message of Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan for over thirty years. He is a direct student of Pir Vilayat Khan and Murshid Samuel Lewis, founder of the Dances of Universal Peace. He has studied with Shamcher and Mother Krishnbai, and has absorbed teachings from many schools of mysticism throughout the world. He lives in Sarasota, Florida, where he serves as director of Rising Tide Institute, an organization promoting spirituality and the arts, which he founded.

Gayan MacherGayan Macher (USA)
Gayan Macher has been a student and teacher of the Sufism of Hazrat Inayat Khan for over 20 years. His capacity as a guide derives from psychological understanding combined with continual spiritual practice. During the last 10 years Gayan has helped create and lead Sufi Retreats, an in-depth group process of mystical transformation. Professionally, he works with corporate executives concerning issues of human relations.

Murshid Wali Ali MeyerMurshid Wali Ali Meyer (USA)
Murshid Wali Ali is a disciple of American Sufi Master Murshid Samuel Lewis, has traveled the Sufi path for nearly four decades. He served as Murshid Samuel Lewis' esoteric secretary and now directs the Sufi Ruhaniat International Esoteric School. Wali Ali's spiritual journey has included years as an educator, spiritual guide, and community builder. He is best known for facilitating mastery in Dances of Universal Peace, Walk, Wazifa, and Meditation practice while transmitting the baraka/grace of the Sufi lineage he represents.

Aqdas NewmarkAqdas Newmark (USA)
Aqdas Newmark is a Spiritual Retreat Guide and Representative in the Sufi Order. She loves Suluk! Having been a mentor for the 4-year Tasnim Class at the Abode, she is mentoring once again at Suluk West. She guides retreats and seminars highlighting illumination, the unfoldment of the soul, and the application of psychology and spirituality to life's challenges. Recently, she inaugurated the new Winged Heart Center in San Francisco. In her professional life, Aqdas holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and has maintained a long-term private psychotherapy practice.

Sharifa NortonKainat Sharifa Norton (USA)
Kainat Sharifa Felicia Norton is a senior teacher, retreat guide, and a mentor and teacher on the faculty of Suluk Academy. She serves as international 1st vice president of the Ziraat Activity in the Sufi Order International. She is co-founder and facilitator of the Light of Guidance Center for Sufi Studies in NYC and teaches at the United Nations International School.  She also performs as a solo dance artist internationally (felicianortondance) and has toured a solo dance work based on the story of Noorunissa Inayat Khan to festivals in Europe and in the US. She is co-author with Muinuddin Charles Smith of the book  ‘An Emerald Earth: Cultivating a Natural Spirituality and Serving Creative Beauty in Our World’ and offers retreats and workshops worldwide. 

Ann-Charlotte Latifa PasquierAnn-Charlotte Latifa Pasquier (Europe)
Ann-Charlotte Latifa Pasquier has been an initiate in the Sufi Order for about fifteen years. She graduated from the Suluk “Parvana” class which was held in Europe. She also holds a diploma in Perceptive Pedagogy, where she accompanies individuals and groups in personal psychosomatic therapy using the movement and the body. She is Secretary General of the International Sufi Order France.

Deepa Gulrukh PatelDeepa Gulrukh Patel (Europe & USA)
Deepa Patel is passionate about music, fighting injustice and nurturing equality and creativity in our world. These areas have been the focus of her work.  Her past roles have included being a music education producer for the BBC, a campaigner on HIV/AIDS for Action Aid, and as a Managing Director of Creative Partnerships (a national UK Government Initiative on creativity in schools). She currently facilitates programmes for organisations globally on the art of collaboration, conversation and contemplation and is Co-Director of Slow Down London, a campaign on how to appreciate and enjoy life at a different pace. Deepa has been on the Sufi path for over 15 years and is also a member of the Wisdom Council for Seven Pillars.

Aziza ScottAziza Scott, M.Ed. (USA)
Aziza Scott has been a student of the retreat process for 30 years and serves as the head of the Esoteric School and as Director of the Retreat Guide Training Program of the Sufi Order International, working closely with Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan. She has many years of experience leading individual and group retreats and conducting workshops in the US, Europe and India. Aziza runs a retreat center in Nottingham, NH.

Malaikah Julie SerranoMalaikah Serrano (USA)
Malaikah Julie Serrano has always been deeply touched by the beauty and life force of all living faiths. She has been grateful to be active in Suluk Academy as a mentor for the Salsabil Class, as a personal Sufi guide, as a teacher for her class at "Call of the Beloved" meditation circle, as a Sufi Order representative as well as a mentoring teacher for the Dances of Universal Peace. Malaikah expresses and shares her love of the Divine in her psychotherapy practice, as a Zen practitioner and in the act of grand mothering. Creativity is an intrinsic part of her life as an artist, and as a gardener.

Kamila Ann StannardKamila Ann Stannard (USA)
Kamila Ann Stannard was born in England and spent the first 40 years of her life as an educator / teacher and artist. I chose to work with young children aged 2–11 as there was more opportunity to explore and implement new ideas. Later I joined the faculty of a College of Education where I supervised students in the classroom to work creatively with young children while also teaching students who had chosen to major in art. My own training was based on the principles of the German educator Frederick Froebel who believed that work and play is one and the same thing and should not be separated in the mind of teacher and child.
These early influences have influenced my whole life. I came to the USA in 1970 to teach a ceramic workshop and did not return again to England except to visit family. For 20 years I worked as a ceramic artist in my studio in Vermont. During that period I met Pir Vilayat and was drawn immediately to his creative mind and spontaneous approach to spiritual training. Inspired by the presence of Pir Vilayat and Aziza Scott, I became a retreat guide, a guide, and regional representative for the Northeast Region and spent many years training initiates to become coordinators, representatives and retreat guides. Pir Zia then invited me to be a mentor on the first 4-year Suluk Academy training. It was a special opportunity to spend time with Pir Zia and do the thing I love—mentoring. The educator in me is alive and well as I continue to guide initiates and retreats.
My latest Endeavor is training as a Somatic Experiencing practitioner for healing trauma in order to work more effectively as a guide and mentor.

Devi TideDevi Tide (USA)
Since 1975 Devi Tide has been a student of Sufism, particularly how the practices of the Sufi path can heal and transform and integrate the body, mind, heart and soul.  She is the originator of Healing Retreats—personal and group retreats geared to individual transformation and healing. Devi is the Kefayat of the Sufi Healing Order in North America, and also offers personal instruction. She lives near Seattle, Washington.

Munir VossMunir Voss (Europe)
Munir Voss has studied philosophy, physics, psychology and astrology. He began to meditate in 1970 and has been a disciple of Pir Vilayat since 1980. From 1981 he has lead the Heidelberg Sufi Centre. For several years now Munir has been one of the main people responsible for the training of retreat guides and leaders in the Sufi Order International. The main focus of his work is the retreat concentration.

More Faculty

  • Saphira Linden (USA)

Note: If you are or were one of the Suluk Academy mentors or teaching faculty, are not on this list, and wish to be, then please accept our most sincere apologies for the omission! Please contact the Suluk USA office with a photo and bio and we will add you immediately.

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A Living Heart

What I really love about Suluk Academy is that it’s the opportunity to work with a very dynamic process, and very beautiful people who are dedicated to the spiritual life—who are willing to go through inner transformation.

 — Aziza Scott